Guitar Sam, a business that opened in 1981, closed this year, after 42 years in business! Carolyn Grodinsky met with Kevin Crossett recently and learned about how the store and how the downtown has changed over these years.
Kevin opened Guitar Sam when he was 25. He had previously worked in retail but wanted to work for himself. He said people thought he was crazy, and he got lots of pushback, as well as folks telling him that they hope it goes okay. “I’d say after 42 years, I guess it was okay.”
Over those years, Kevin moved the business four times (including the building that burned down next to Charlie-O's). When he started, he opened in the small Zutanto space, his “starter space” and made $100.32 his first day. Most stores weren’t open on Saturday, if they were, they closed by 12 pm, and all stores were closed on Sundays. There wasn’t any retail organization, like Montpelier Alive. He noted that over time, the downtown business chamber has improved communication between retailers and hosted events, getting more people into downtown.
Kevin was an early adopter to using the internet. In 1998 Kevin built his first website. His first online orders were via fax and he used a map of the US to track where these first buyers were from. Within a couple of months he had tacks in every state and countries around the world.
What’s next for Kevin?
Kevin tells me it’s too early to say. His original plan was to move to a smaller space and repair guitars. He’d work fewer days and need fewer supplies. However, he realized that even if he opened a “downsized” store, he’d still be working just as hard.
While he loved being able to help customers, which he’ll miss the most from Guitar Sam, right now he’s embracing the freedom of not running a store. However he notes “it’s summer and come colder weather, I might think differently. Possibly I’ll find my way back to the store, it’s too early to tell. I’ve kept the trade name, leaving the door open to reopening.” He’s also a lifelong musician, mostly guitar, but more recently he’s gotten hooked on playing the ukulele.
Kevin still owns and manages the Guitar Sam on-line store, which in addition to selling musical accessories, includes helpful resources such as where to repair instruments and music teacher.